Looking back at Sam Seder’s movie about pilot season, “Who’s the Caboose?” (Now out on DVD)

In the mid-1990s, Sam Seder starred, directed and co-wrote the mocumentary Who's The Caboose?, which had a group of New York film students follow comedian/actors Max (Seder) and Susan (Sarah Silverman) out to Los Angeles, where they both get caught up in the madness that is Hollywood's TV pilot season.

The cast is full of comedians you may know a bit better in 2011 than you did in 1997: Andy Dick plays Silverman's manager, while H. Jon Benjamin is an entertainment lawyer who becomes fond of Seder. Kathy Griffin looks like a completely different person, because she was back then. David Cross, Andy Kindler, Laura Kightlinger, Laura Silverman, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Marc Maron, Todd Barry, Slovin and Allen, Mark Cohen, the late Lauren Dombrowski all had roles in the film, which is only out on DVD today.

Here's a brand-new trailer for it, with new footage of Seder spliced with clips from the movie. Roll it.


It's funny. It's satirical. It's cutting. And yes, it's dated. You can tell it's the mid-1990s, because people smoked in restaurants, and nobody was ever looking at a cell phone, nevermind talking on one — well, Benjamin's character does use a car phone in one scene. Oh, memories.

The film spawned a TV mini-series sequel in 2004 called Pilot Season, which reunited the cast, and added Isla Fisher. You can watch the episodes of Pilot Season online via My Damn Channel.

Seder, who himself acted in 10 different network TV sitcom pilots, told The Comic's Comic that he's not that involved in the sitcom game in 2011. His focus, if you follow The Sam Seder Show or The Majority Report, is squarely on politics these days — although you can hear his voice in a few episodes of the new FOX animated series, Bob's Burgers.

I asked Seder how he feels Who's The Caboose? holds up when compared to the current TV climate, as Hollywood's studios are just now finishing up casting for the 2011 pilots. Seder's reply:

I haven‚Äôt watched the film in a while and haven‚Äôt engaged in Pilot Season in quite a while. With that said… I think the mechanics of the business, development season, pilot season have changed quite a bit — the rise of cable which develops on a different schedule and the rise of reality shows has contributed to making pilot season more diffuse. The essence of the business and the people who populate it I imagine is the same. There‚Äôs the same delusion, the same fictions, the same mental problems which drive people to seek fame… I used to describe the exchanges in the film and the ones I experienced in L.A. as ones where two people‚Äôs lies and false projections meet somewhere in between them — they tell each other lies which satisfy each other‚Äôs delusions and then they go on their way.  I suspect that dynamic is the same. I‚Äôm also quite sure the notion of ‚Äúwho‚Äôs hot‚Äù in the industry remains the same.  I actually think that the numbers game which agents and managers play as we depict in the movie has gotten worse for actors/comedians… I‚Äôd wager that if an agent repped 25 actors 15 years ago they rep 50 today — same with managers.

Would you like to relive Who's The Caboose? on DVD? Buy it via Amazon.com or iTunes:

Who's the Caboose?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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